On 26 September 2022, the NASA DART probe successfully impacted the Dimorphos asteroid, the smallest component of the binary asteroid system Didymos. The aim of the mission was to measure the effect of the impact on the orbit of Dimorphos, to test the efficiency of the kinetic impactor technique for planetary defence. While Dimorphos did not pose any danger to Earth, this was the first ever test of a mitigation technique in case a potentially dangerous asteroid is found in the future. The impact and its aftermath were observed from all continents on Earth, allowing us to judge the success of the mission but also to gather invaluable data about what asteroids are made of. In this talk, I will explore the DART mission, its outcome, and some of the observations made from very remote locations on Earth.
Dr Cyrielle Opitom obtained her PhD in Astronomy from the Université de Liège in Belgium in 2016 and then moved to Chile as a fellow at the European Southern Observatory (ESO). She joined the University of Edinburgh in 2019 and is currently a Chancellor’s fellow and Reader. She studies small bodies of the Solar System, and in particular comets and asteroids, trying understand what they can teach us about the history of the Solar System. She is also very interested in instrumentation projects, and involved in the design of future astronomical instruments and facilities.